MOSCOW, May 31. /TASS/. Russia will launch two Meridian-M military communications satellites in 2019, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.
"Before the end of the year, two upgraded Meridian-M-series communications satellites will be launched," Shoigu said at the ministry’s board meeting.
Russia will also complete creating the orbital military communications grouping that will consist of four Blagovest satellites, the defense minister said.
"This will provide a possibility to expand the areas of satellite communication accessibility on the territory of Russia and outside it, including in the Arctic," the defense minister said.
The first Blagovest military satellite, the Kosmos-2520, was launched from the Baikonur spaceport on August 17, 2017. The second satellite of this series, the Kosmos-2526, was launched on April 19, 2018 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Initially, its liftoff was planned for December 25, 2017 but was rescheduled due to problems with an onboard device.
The third Blagovest satellite was launched in December 2018 and the fourth will be delivered into orbit in mid-July.
Russia’s Defense Ministry plans to deploy a grouping of four Blagovest satellites by 2020. These satellites are designed to provide high-speed access to the Internet, transmit data and offer telephone and video conference communications using the advanced Ka-and Ku-band frequencies.
Russia’s Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems Company received an order in 2017 for manufacturing four Meridian-M military satellites (the modernized version of Meridian space vehicles).
Reshetnev CEO Nikolai Testoyedov earlier told TASS that the company was planning to produce the first Meridian-M satellite at the end of 2018, the second in 2019, the third in 2020 and the fourth in 2022. The time was chosen to ensure the planned replacement of existing Meridian satellites, he said.
The Meridians are second-generation communications satellites that replaced Molniya and Raduga space vehicles. The active service life of operational satellites is seven years.